Homeless Girl's Testimony of Jesus
Fall 2008 -- Iowa City, Iowa

It was a beautiful fall day in Iowa City, Iowa and I left work late morning, earlier than usual, to enjoy the weather.  As I drove up to an intersection I saw a young woman standing with a cardboard sign which said something like 'Hungry, Homeless.'  Often I saw people at this intersection, but most of the time it was when people were leaving work and there were lines waiting at the stop light.  This time I had a green light, so I didn’t stop and give her money.  This girl didn’t look as rough as most and I wondered why she didn’t get a job, instead of standing on a corner asking for money.  After a couple of miles she continued to stay on my mind, so I decided to go back and offer to take her to lunch so we could talk.  She was hesitant at first, and then decided to go with me. 

After a period of silence I asked her typical questions like, “What is your name?” “How old are you?” “How long have you been on the streets?”  “Do your parents know that you are living on the streets?” She was very soft spoken and provided cryptic replies without elaborating.  I learned that she was twenty, her mother was dead, her father was an alcoholic and didn’t know where she was. 

After a pause I told her that I was a Christian, and what I did, I did in the name of Jesus Christ.  She looked at me for the first time and said that she, too, was a Christian.  Now she opened up and shared more.  She grew up in South Carolina, had a job there, and walked to a Baptist church while growing up.  She had moved to Chicago to be with her boyfriend. He was eighteen and was presently at a job interview; otherwise, they would have been together on the corner.   She wore an inexpensive ring as a symbol of their engagement.  They came to Iowa City to see his sick mother, ran out of money, and had been living on the streets for the past five months.  I asked where they slept, and she said on the street or hallways.  They couldn’t get into the shelters because her boyfriend was too young.  Evidently the shelters didn’t want to encourage run-away kids, hence the age limit.

After another pause she tentatively said, “Can I tell you something?”  I said sure.  She said that yesterday I broke my flip-flops, so I didn’t have any shoes.  This morning I woke up and these shoes and a pair of socks, just my size, were sitting by my feet on the bench.  I felt the Spirit of the Lord flow over me when she said that, and I determined to give her some money.

I took her to HyVee because I knew they had a lunch buffet with a wide selection of food.  Instead, she said a hamburger at the outdoor grill was enough.  I added another hamburger with two drinks and two chips so she could have more, and something to take to her fiancé.  Then I asked her to wait a minute while I went inside.  As I went to get money from the bank, a man stopped me and said, “Thank you.”  I was startled because I had never seen anyone with such blue eyes.  He was about five feet nine inches tall, white hair, wore white shorts and a blue polo shirt.  I asked him, “Thank you for what?” and he said, “I saw what you did for her.”  I looked away not sure what to say, looked back and he was gone.  I think he may have been a heavenly messenger, maybe even the one who gave her the shoes.

I got $100 dollars out of the bank, this was a lot of money for me to give a stranger, but I wanted to help her.  As we drove back to the intersection, where she planned to meet her fiancé, I handed her the rolled up bills.  She started to cry and said, “You don’t know what this means to me, we can sleep inside tonight, I needed this so much.  I was recently rapped by someone and while he was rapping me I prayed for him.  He became angry and said why are you praying for me, and I said because you are worse off than me, because you don’t know Jesus.”  Then after she stopped crying, she thanked me and said that Jesus always got her through everything that has ever happened in her life.

I was deeply moved.  This young woman had done something that I am not sure that I could have done, pray for someone who was hurting me badly.  She has had a difficult life, yet, she still walked with Jesus.  In that moment I knew that the Lord had provided for her because of her faith and act of love for her attacker.  I was humbled and blessed to be used by Him, to know of His care and love, His intimate knowledge of her, His child.  I will never forget this. I was so happy that I offered that gift of money, otherwise, I wouldn't have known the whole story.  Yet my gift was nothing, compared to the gift the Lord gave me in using me to help my sister.